How I Quit My Day Job Too Early and Wasn't Ready For The Next Step - Quiet Entertainer

How I Quit My Day Job Too Early and Wasn’t Ready For The Next Step

Denzel Washington as Malcom X

I was Bamboozled! Hoodwinked! Led Astray!

However, it’s really my fault. I don’t think I was sold a lie. But I believed a lie. But let’s start with the truth.

The truth is that I want to be a musician and DJ. I want to make great music and perform that music all across the country and all over the world. I want to do this just like all of my favorite artists have done. I also want my live show to create great experiences for people who like the music. I want people to be able to look back on a show of mine and say that it was one of their great life experiences either because of me or the people they met there; and of course, the art. I also want to act and perform on TV and film like my childhood heroes did. I want to be part of great storytelling and great presentation.

Quiet Entertainer

Additionally, I want to make a lot of money. I want to be able to be generous with that money in the same way that people have been generous with me. I want to support my local church. I also want to support organizations like Christ In Youth that really impacted me when I was younger. I also want a lot of free time. I would spend that time volunteering with kids at my local church, just like volunteers were there for me. I would spend time visiting all my friends all over the country and world that I’ve met over the years. I’d also spend time practicing my craft, both music and acting; and getting better. Eventually, I’d want to spend my time with a wife and kids.

That is the whole picture.

You can earn more money, but you can’t earn more time. We are always running out of time. Not only that, but we don’t know how much time we have left. I started looking to use technology in smarter ways to market music. I stumbled upon music marketing blogs. Those led me to lifestyle design blogs. Those led me to minimalism blogs. I settled on a few experts. One guy told me Sell all my crap. Another told me to stop being a wuss. Another said there is never a right time. Some more people said they quit their day job. What is a real job anyway?

Well, I quit my day job to pursue the music. I was doing great for a while. I had some shows lined up. I was making money. And then it all dried up. No shows. no money. No way to pay the bills. I was on the Ramen Noodles diet. I ate Ramen so often, one day I physically could not look at another packet of Ramen. I chose to just not eat. I’d never experienced it that bad. It was so bad, that I actually lost hosting on this site and the site was down. I suppose I didn’t work as hard as I could have.

A year and a half ago, I was inspired to run a full marathon. Not a half. a FULL 26.2 miles. Running a half isn’t on anyone’s bucket list. So I bought some great running shoes. Some insoles. I talked with a lot of runners. I signed up to a some running sites. Read some running blogs. I got a run your first marathon book. I suppose I did everything except actually get out and run every day. So when the marathon came, I wasn’t ready and I didn’t do it.

I suppose this quit your day job stuff is like that. I didn’t really hustle like I could have. I realized this when I read Jon Acuff’s book, Quitter. I should have figured it out sooner. I knew that there isn’t a lot of money to be made in music business. There’s just a lot more work that I have to do to make my big picture a reality. But that’s the task. I suppose I was seduced by the visions of trying to live the life now before it’s “too late.”

I really screwed it up this year. It’s tempting to focus only on these failures. However, I did have some victories. I played a great live PA show in Knoxville. I did a great DJ set this summer for some church kids (BTW: here’s the difference between Live PA & DJ Sets). I made my first DJ mix, Q-Gaze. And really, at least I tried it. I jumped without fear. It may have been financial suicide. But I tried it. So now that I have to take a minimum wage job just to try and catch up, I at least have a better perspective on what I need to do to create the life that I feel led to create. I need to hustle. I need to focus less on my marketing strategy and make sure my stuff is epic. I need to not care what other people think. I need to focus on the right things.

I say all this publicly so that I’ll actually have to do that. Hold me accountable.

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About the Author Quiet Entertainer

Quiet Entertainer (that's me) is a DJ/Producer that blends ambient electronica with hip-hop. I'm based in Nashville, TN.

  • Josh says:

    Good stuff.

  • Rose says:

    Well, I think it took a lot of courage to quit your day job and try to do music full time. I also think it took courage to admit that doing that was jumping the gun, and now that you’ve experienced the realities of what that entails, you’re re-evaluating and trying to regroup and eventually get to a place where it will make sense to try that again. I admire all of that. It’s pretty tough owning up to mistakes even to yourself, let alone publicly on a blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences and your music with us, Greg. Both are an inspiration.u00a0

  • Anonymous says:

    The main issue is, if you quit your dayjob to make music, you have to make music your dayjob. No free time to do other things. You have to work twice as hard, for yourself. You have to be constantly making music and moves. Even then, certain forces will get in your way.u00a0nnI was DJing as my main job for almost 3 years here in Nashville. When the economy tanked, the clubs that were paying me top wage, decided that DJ Spacebar (for $50 a night) was more affordable. So, I got a day job.Still, I did not give up. I realized that someone had “moved my cheese” and I switched my focus from clubs to corporate events. I still do what I love, albeit part time, and make almost what I did at clubs doing part time corporate gigs. I’m in the process of trying out clubs again, as I’ve just started doing a weekly Monday night residency at The End ( MANIC MONDAYSu00a0http://bit.ly/rGjsstu00a0) and I’m working on setting up a Thursday residency at another club. I also want to start a new monthly, once those are established.Eventually, I’ll be able to quit the day job again. In the meantime, there’s no shame in making sure ends meet.

  • Origthdj says:

    I still have day job and I’ve been making money as a DJ and Producer/engineer. I have so many prospects going on but I know that they’re not quite as consistent as a pay check from a day job and my bills are consistent. I was given the advice that you’re ready to quit corporate America when you can afford to. I haven’t got to that point yet. In he mean time I’m learning how to master my finances and stay on the grind as harder today than yesterday. I have no doubt that ou will meet up with your dream. If you stop and look, you’re in it already. I love you brother

  • I think what u did was bold, and something that could/may have helped you greatly in your life. Im sure u learned valuable lessons and really got to pour some time into your music and etc. And admitting everything is major for you, and a good thing.nHowever, i think maybe didnt make the most of your resources. Meaning that, if your going to go without working a day job, you need to find ways to make money and spend less. If i had known a while ago about some of the things ive learned recently, both through this blog and personal conversations, i would have done much more to assist you in your journey. And i think there are more people that would have also (whether it was side jobs, donations, food or etc). Maybe i was personally just oblivious to everything and should have known! I certainly never knew about the lack of meals and etc, i would have used some of those coupons and you could have eaten free. And im just now finding out about the website being down, because i would have offered you super cheat hosting space (ive got TONS of space i will never use) and help moving your site. When i found out the extent of things, it was super late, and i was shocked and wondering if i was a horrible person for not realizing and etc. I hadnt wrapped my mind around things, and wasnt thinking straight. I should have offered more ways/suggestions to assist you, for which i feel bad and like i failed you!nI think you have success in you and things will work out for you in one way or another, maybe this was just a learning experience and something you needed to help you later.

    • None of this is your fault, brotha. You have helped me a great deal. I appreciate that. I’m still plugging! You know what, everyone needs help in life. But I’m tired of just asking and begging for help. What I’ve learned from all this is that I just need to work harder so I can make this happen. God willing.

  • Hey QE, Telling people your goals is the first step and you have done that. u00a0Congratulations! u00a0You are right, once you tell people, then you are allowing them to hold you accountable and that takes courage. u00a0You might like the book “12 week year” by Brian Moran. u00a0The book talks about how we underestimate what we can actually get done in a certain amount of time. u00a0Also, remember that almost every great achiever in any area had several failures, but it’s all about getting up one more time. u00a0Just keep at it. u00a0God intended so much more for us than “day jobs”. u00a0Muhammed Ali said “I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.””. u00a0Sacrifice is nothing other than the production of sacred things!!!!! u00a0You can do it!nn

  • Adam Hoek says:

    Good read bro. Im excited to see where your life takes you. I think the great power you have is in knowing how deep you went. but you can totally learn from this, and I think you are. I know your not going to quit it. Everyone struggles in the water before they learn how to swim.

  • Education is expensive. Keep learning, regining, trying, and working towards the goals you have. nnRemember watching a sailboat … the sailer has a part to play to make the boat go, but does not control the wind. Be a sailer. nWork hard, know what type of work to be doing & keep in mind that to sail most places you cannot go straight at the end goal, but have to go one way, change course, then go another.

  • Jess Pierce says:

    If we didn’t have failures, how would we know when we were succeeding? Life only gets real when it hits the blood, sweat and tears. That’s when you really know you’re living.

  • A.Part-2 says:

    Great post and topic.u00a0 Thats dream right there for so many of us in any musical genre. To be able to say we eat off rap rather than the opposite like on that Cunnylynguist album “Will Rap For Food”.u00a0 Basically you gotta take risk, its like a gamble.u00a0 So props to you man for stepping out in faith like that.u00a0 While reading this post it also made me think of an video of the Alchemist on youtube and hes talking about music nd how some people just quit there jobs but hes basically saying to do the opposite. Like wait for the breaks to come while your working a 9 to 5 keep that to eat off of before your big break comes in any sort of way.

    • Yeah you’re right. And that’s a big part of that book I mentioned before, Quitter. That’s something that he talks a lot about. But It’s a smart way to handle it for sure. Thanks for checking in and for the great comment. I’m going to check out those tracks you mentioned.u00a0

  • Shudsonphoto says:

    I’m going through a lot of that, as well. I’m down to 4 shifts a week and cut back more and more on ‘day job’ a little at a time. I want a lot of things that I can’t afford… It’s tough. Hang in there 😉

  • Reis says:

    Expand on your visual aspect of your show? I have seen dramatic improvements in your abilities on the tables (scratching etc.) so don’t look at it as a mistake ever, it is part of evolving, I made this same decision to do my own form of artwork and do not regret it at all even though there is so much constant uncertainty and financial instability. To quote a wise man…n”We the American working populationnnHate the fact that eight hours a daynnIs wasted on chasing the dream of someone that isn’t usnnAnd we may not hate our jobs,nnBut we hate jobs in general nnThat don’t have to do with fighting our own causes.nnWe the American working populationnnHate the nine-to-five day-in/day-outnnWhen we’d rather be supporting ourselvesnnBy being paid to perfect the pasttimes nnThat we have harbored based solely on the factnnThat it makes us smile if it sounds dope…” nnnuff said

  • Harleydree says:

    I hopd you accountable for already being epic even as you see your steps as a failure. You did something most people in the world will never do, because like you said their fear is too great. The best part is you took the adventure, and you can never say you didn’t. Along with that you got something out of it so what more could anyone ask for from anything. I think your goals are amazing, and life is too short to chalk anything up to a failure, all it was is a time you did something in a way you know better from now looking back. Keep moving forwards! You are going to get the wife the family the house in due time, you are too amazing not to. You will find the job you want, even if it isn’t as gloriously paid as you expect, and you will soon learn your TIME to the people you love and you want to help is more precious than ANY amount of money you could ever have to offer.

  • […] path hasn’t gone exactly the way he dreamed it up, but to me, that’s the most inspiring thing about […]

  • kimberley says:

    A friend just moved from Seattle to Franklin, so I started searching for Nashville music sites for him and ended up here. I’ve been DJing as a hobby for ~15 years and make weird bleepy electronic music. Although I’ve never aimed to make it a career, I’ve seen many try (and sometimes succeed). I wanted to comment that in my opinion you did not fail. A lot of people who try to run their own business go through long periods of being crazy broke, eating top ramen, etc… regardless of whether they’re trying to work in the music industry, or tech jobs, or fashion, or anything really. I started doing freelance work this past year while I was in school and I loved it… but I also ate brown rice for 5 meals in a row, was often panicking about bills / rent, etc. Most school programs don’t teach people how to work for themselves… they teach them how to prepare for a life spent working for somebody else. So a lot of it people have to learn by trying stuff and making mistakes and trying again. And a lot of people don’t even have the courage to take a risk like that, so they settle for a stable job that they don’t love and never even try to find something that would make them really happy. 

    I don’t like everything Aesop Rock, but I like “No Regrets”: “Look, I’ve never had a dream in my life because a dream is what you want to do but still haven’t pursued.” (from http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/101815)
    But you could always get a day job related to online marketing, maybe even in the music industry. You might not have gotten rich off it yet, but you taught yourself online marketing and used it to get paid gigs. A lot of companies are more impressed by people who show that they are self-motivated, smart, genuinely interested in the industry, etc. vs. people who have a degree in something but really aren’t interested in anything besides the paycheck. Some of those jobs pay pretty well, and having an inside industry look at how companies do it would probably help a lot with doing it for yourself. Especially if you could get a music industry gig and work with music writers / record labels / PR people. The more music industry friends you have, the easier it is. I used to do music writing, and a lot of music writers tried really hard not to be clique-y and to listen to everything they got sent even if they knew nothing about it. But you just get flooded with hundreds of promos and emails and it’s nearly impossible to keep up. Almost everybody would read an email their friend sent them with “you should check this out” before they read the other 500 emails. Sometimes getting so-and-so to send an email about you is way more effective than hours spent on marketing. It kinda sucks for independent artists, but most people trust friends more than people they don’t know, and you can’t really get around that… Anyway, one of the things I did wrong was not asking more people for help. I’ve known a few people who were reallllly annoying about bugging everyone around them to help them find gigs, or help them do whatever, and I never wanted to be “that guy”. But I went too far in the other direction… I didn’t tell people that I was eating brown rice for 5 meals in a row, scrambling around trying to get another gig, etc. When they found out later they were like “Damn, I wish you would’ve told me that… I could’ve hooked you up with x or y”. I realized that some people I know would’ve been happy to have been able to help me vs. irritated. So now I’m making a bigger effort to ask people for help vs. assuming that it’ll annoy them. 

  • kimberley says:

    P.S. A lot of people in Seattle don’t like Starbucks, and I understand why. But in a way, Starbucks is actually a pretty big source of support for artists / musicians here, and probably in other cities too. They give people who work 25 hours a week healthcare and benefits. So it’s not uncommon here for artists to take a part time job at Starbucks to have some steady income, be able to go to the doctor etc. and spend the rest of the time making music / art / going to school / whatever. Most part time jobs pay a lot more, but private health insurance is so crazy expensive. Some of the insurance plans I looked at cost more per month than my rent! My ex-boyfriend had no insurance and at one point he cut himself in the eye with a record. I think it’s kind of hilarious, but it ended up being a pretty big problem ’cause he was in Germany, didn’t speak any German, and had to go to the hospital for awhile… 

    • Thanks for checking in! You know, I think jobs like Starbucks are actually harder to get because everybody is trying to get them. I feel like if you are truly pursuing the thing that is uniquely you that you will have a greater chance of “success” because no one else is going to try to do that thing. But thousands of people are lining up to try and get that Starbucks job or that 9-5 job with benefits or whatever. Ironic.

  • SynthEtiX says:

    Nice. I’m proud of you as a fellow musician that you followed your dream so easily. I am actually at a fork in my life road and really wanted to leave my job.. but I’m a DJ 4 nights a week making better money than my 5 day a week part-time job previously.
    I’ve learned that, even though I COULD move back home with my parents (I’m 24 years old) and pursue music production full-time, I’m not at the point where I think I would use all my free time correctly.

    I think the point when I’ll be ready to pursue my production career full time will be when I work so much at it that I have no time left in my week.. I would theoretically be forced to quit my day job because of all the work I’m putting into my development as an artist. For me (I’ve quit every single one of my 10 jobs I’ve already had LOL), I’ve learned that hating my day job isn’t reason enough to leave it. I’m giving myself this whole year of 2013, starting today, to truly focus all my time on my career and stop wasting time with tv/xbox/etc.

    Thank you for sharing your personal experience and solidifying my belief that I need to have a little more self control before I dive right in to something I love so much as music. Maybe we’re similar in that I dive right in to everything else in life too, maybe you’re the same?

    Good luck to all you artists out there! Stay strong! Work HARD! Harder than EVER!

  • SynthEtiX says:

    How is everything going for you by the way??
    I’m attempting to keep you accountable, like you asked 😉

  • Tatebox says:

    im going through the same thing right now. but i havnt quit my day job yet…scared as hell. lol its like i have to have a way to pay my bills while i put in 3x the work on my music than the work i do at this damn boring ass job called panera bread. The managers are pains and they suck. I do the same things repeatedly over and over. 10 hour shifts…omg!!! aaahhh! just thinking about it makes me loose it. i just want to quit and have time and oppertunity to make my music and hustle to promote. i love that. But i have to find a smart reason to leave my day job. problem is I cant. feels like im waisting away my talent. smh i cant take it. oh and im a music producer by the name of Tatebox. 
    soundcloud.com/tatebox 

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